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    Sunday, May 19, 2024

    Indonesia's Muslims celebrate Eid al-Adha with feasts after rituals disrupted last year

    Jakarta, Indonesia — Muslims across Indonesia on Thursday were celebrating Eid al-Adha, one of the biggest holidays in the Islamic calendar, with full meat-based feasts after fears of last year's foot-and-mouth disease outbreak waned.

    Eid al-Adha, known as the “Feast of Sacrifice,” coincides with the final rites of the annual hajj in Saudi Arabia. It’s a joyous occasion, for which food is a hallmark with devout Muslims buying and slaughtering animals and sharing two-thirds of the meat with the poor.

    Many Southeast Asia nations, including Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore observed Eid al-Adha on Thursday, while Muslims in other parts of the globe, including in countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey, Afghanistan and Nigeria, celebrated the holiday on Wednesday. It varies according to moon sightings in different parts of the world.

    On Thursday, worshippers shoulder-to-shoulder joined in communal prayers in the streets of Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta. Mosques flooded with devotees offering morning prayers, including in Jakarta’s Istiqlal Grand Mosque, the largest in Southeast Asia.

    “Thank God, we can pray Eid al-Adha with our family and celebrate the festival without fears of the outbreak and pandemic," said Neisya Fabiola, a Jakarta resident. “This year’s celebration is much more lively than last years.”

    Eid al-Adha holiday in Indonesia is known for its lavish meat-based feasts, which are made with the meat from the sacrifice. Huge crowds filled the yards of mosques to participate in ritual animal slaughter for the festival.

    Indonesia's government has decided to extend this year’s feast of sacrifice holiday by giving an extra two days of mandatory leave before and after the Muslim festival in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country.

    President Joko Widodo said the decision was geared toward spurring economic activities and tourism in the world’s largest archipelago nation.

    “It would allow more time for people to travel and enjoy their holiday in a bid to spur more economic activities, particularly domestic tourism,” Widodo said last week.

    Indonesia, like the rest of the world, is struggling to come out of an economic recession fueled by the pandemic with the Ukraine war and soaring energy and food prices creating complications in the recovery.

    Eid al-Adha commemorates the Quranic tale of Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice Ismail as an act of obedience to God. Before he could carry out the sacrifice, God provided a ram as an offering. In the Christian and Jewish telling, Abraham is ordered to kill another son, Isaac.

    Last year, a foot-and-mouth disease outbreak disrupted the ritual slaughter of animals to mark Eid al-Adha in Indonesia. But the government has worked to overcome that outbreak.

    Foot-and-mouth disease is an acute, highly contagious viral disease of cloven-footed animals that is sometimes transmitted to humans. It significantly dampened the typically booming holiday trade in goats, cows and sheep in Indonesia.

    The disease returned to Indonesia last year, which had been outbreak-free for 32 years. The government, struggling to cope, set up a task force and ordered the culling of tens thousands infected livestock.

    The trend of active cases was observed to have decreased with zero new cases in the recent weeks, with the remaining active cases of 4,682 as of Monday, out of a total of 630,706 cases largely on the most populated islands of Java and Sumatra, according to data from the National FMD Task Force.

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